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Vendetta Online 1.8.541 - Enhanced Mac support

VO 1.8.541 includes:
- Mac version now supports Apple ARM processors natively, such as the M1.
- Added new "Vulkan (Metal)" video driver for recent MacOS versions, using "MoltenVK" Vulkan-on-Metal API.
- Vulkan + Metal driver supports "full screen window mode" on Mac, for ease of switching desktop "spaces".
- Major performance improvements for OpenGL 4 driver on ARM-based Apple M1 devices.
- Improved installation compatibility of Mac version with recent versions of MacOS.

This is the most significant technical change to our Mac install in quite awhile, and we'd appreciate feedback on any issues you may find (preferably by posting to Bugs, or using the Support Ticket system if necessary).

We now have essentially a Metal-native renderer, through the MoltenVK support for making our Vulkan renderer show up as a Metal renderer. Vulkan is itself a very efficient, hardware-level API, so bridging from that to Metal is not much of a leap that will impact performance, but it does make our engine easier to maintain. The proliferation of rendering APIs has been a big headache for us, over the long history of our game (we've been through: Glide, D3D, DX5, DX6, DX7, DX8, DX8.1, DX9, DX11, OpenGL 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 2.x, 4.x, ES 2.x, 3.x, etc), so we're really aiming to just focus on Vulkan from here on out.

The MacOS version is also now includes support for both Intel / x86 CPUs, as well as the new ARM-based processors made in-house by Apple, such as the "M1". For those players who have Intel-based Macs, have no fear, we tend to support older Macs longer than anyone else. I mean, we finally dropped PowerPC just a couple of years ago.

Our GL4 driver has also been significantly enhanced on newer M1 Macs, where it was really yielding terrible performance. The GL4 driver should no longer be necessary there, since we recommend using the Metal renderer on that device, but if there's a need for compatibility reasons, it should now be a far faster fall-back option. Notably, it was not slow because of anything we did, but rather an apparent issue in Apple's GL4-to-Metal driver, which we managed to work around.

The GL4 driver on Intel (which is not nearly as slow as it was on the M1) has not been updated, because unfortunately a different Apple-side bug causes it to only render a black screen on certain older Intel-based Macs. This kind of thing is why we don't do a lot of frequent Mac technical updates, they tend to be fraught with a kind of debugging whack-a-mole that is often not related to our own software.

Still, if your Mac works with the Metal driver, we suggest using that, and making us aware of any problems you encounter. That way we can focus on making that rendering-path as stable and performant as possible. Remember, if you don't report a bug, we may never know about it.. we only have a limited selection of Mac hardware and MacOS versions for testing.

For those installing from scratch, as of this writing our direct-install downloadable DMGs, linked from our site, have been updated to include all the new features, but the "Mac Store" version has not yet been updated. A new version will be pushed to the "Store" sometime soon.

That's all for now, have fun everyone!